Mellencamp Rare Among Big Names to Play Savannah

He's a rock legend and he's playing tonight in the Hostess City. John Mellencamp kicks off his world tour tonight at the Savannah Civic Center.

The civic center can only seat a little more than 5,000 people. So many big-name acts just pass right on by.

Mellencamp is from a small town and doesn't mind playing in a small arena. He's one of the few. The main reason acts go on tour is to make money. But most big-name entertainers feel that's not something they can do in Savannah.

"They said they just couldn't come to Savannah because the seating capacity is not there to make the money necessary to pay those big-time actors and entertainers," said Chatham County Commission chairman Pete Liakakis.

So those big names go play somewhere else, like Atlanta or Jacksonville, taking fans from here with them, like Steve Atkins. "You got a lot of things that goes on in Savannah, they try to make up for it, but if you go out you can see a lot of bigger areas too," he said.

The small seating capacity isn't the only problem. Civic center officials say the building isn't structurally sound enough for bands to hang large equipment like speakers and video screens.

City council is talking about building a new arena to attract bigger names, but that could be a long way off. "It's still in that study stage to make a decision on how large a civic center they want to build," said Liakakis. "The seating capacity, but it's really a need to have a larger entertainment center."

The cost of building a new civic center is a major issue and it's something some city council members are trying to work out.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen,